The political implications of the new school consolidation law may become clearer as school districts begin to grapple with the choices forced upon them by the state. Those implications may become more damaging to Democrats if House Speaker Shap Smith decides to run for governor.
Superintendents and school boards throughout the state are holding meetings to discuss what they must do to comply with mandates from the state that they must somehow reshape their school boards or districts or face penalties imposed by the state. The whole reform program has been pushed as a way to create new efficiencies and save money for taxpayers, but some school boards are already questioning whether the changes will save money at all. Many legislators had the same misgiving about the law.
The law was pushed strongly by Smith. Some Democrats who feared the new law would erode local governance of schools felt compelled by the demands of party discipline to go along with Smith’s program, and now the Republicans may be preparing to make them pay.
Gov. Peter Shumlin was a disingenuous pied piper on the issue, saying he would not support a bill that imposed a Montpelier solution on the issue of school governance. When the Legislature passed a bill doing exactly that, Shumlin pronounced a great victory, happily signed it, then announced he would not seek re-election next year. […]
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